Sunday, December 2, 2012

Look, up in the sky!

It’s no bird. It’s no plane. It’'s…the International Space Station.

And it's speeding over my house.

In the pre-dawn sky, the space station looks about three times the size and brilliance of any planet; its speed faster than any airplane. NASA says it's the third brightest object in the sky, after the sun and moon. 

You may not be able to see Russia from your house, but you can certainly see the International Space Station. That’s because NASA will tell you exactly when, where, and for how long it will appear in your neighborhood.

With its Spot the Station program, you can sign up for free text or email alerts that arrive a few hours before the space station passes over your house. 

I tried it out Saturday morning, having received a NASA alert Friday night. I stumbled out of bed just after 5:00 and parked myself in the driveway. I bundled a winter coat over my jammies and stared into the darkness.

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Sore neck. Nothing.

Then, there it was! At exactly 5:33 AM. Appearing in the western sky. Disappearing to the southeast. Visible for four minutes. Just like NASA said.

More than 200 miles above Earth, a space station crew of six men were carrying out Expedition 34, which began November 18 and will end March 15.

On the ground, it was cold, dark, and quiet. I waved and went back to bed, smiling to myself.

There are many ways to engage with the International Space Station. Visit its website for video and audio feeds, to follow the astronauts on Twitter and other social media sites, find educational resources, and play the interactive games.

Space may be the final frontier, but NASA is doing a great job of bringing it to your home and into your living room.

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